January 13, 2011 / 8:48 PM / 9 years ago

Treasury sanctions 26 new Iran-controlled firms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday extended sanctions to more than two dozen firms it said were acting as fronts for Iran’s missile program.

The Treasury Department said 24 firms have ties with state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and two were affiliated with Aerospace Industries Organization, a subsidiary of Iran’s Ministry of Defense.

The Treasury Department previously blacklisted IRISL and the AIO under sanctions targeting alleged supporters of what the United States describes as Iran’s nuclear weapons development program. Tehran says its nuclear work is aimed at producing electricity.

The latest actions prohibit U.S. entities from any transactions with the designated firms and individuals, and seek to freeze assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

Similar moves in the past also have effectively cut off international financing to sanctioned entities.

“IRISL is under tremendous financial pressure from international sanctions, and it is going to extreme lengths to obscure its network and the ownership of vessels,” said Stuart Levey, Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

The Treasury Department said four of the firms tied to IRISL were located in the Isle of Man, a self-governed British territory. Another 20 were located in Hong Kong, while two Tehran-based firms were affiliates of AIO, Treasury said.

“Today’s designations expose the latest in a string of deceptive measures Iran is taking to continue its illicit conduct,” Levey said.

Reporting Corbett B. Daly; Editing by Paul Simao

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